Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Politics

Kriseman criticizes City Council, says he will work with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman extended a political olive branch to the City Council Thursday, saying he is ready to try again after a council majority scuttled his plan to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to explore new stadium sites in Tampa.

Moments later, however, he repeated his criticism that the council prefers talk to action.

Three weeks after the council voted down a tentative agreement with the Rays, the mayor told an audience at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club that, although he has no timetable to bring an agreement to council, he'll continue to work with Rays president Brian Auld.

"We're not always going to see eye to eye," Kriseman said. "Hopefully, we don't take it personally. If we lose a vote, we move on."

Council member Wengay Newton quickly challenged Kriseman, saying he couldn't believe the mayor expected the council to approve the memorandum of understanding — defeated by a 5-3 vote on Dec. 18.

Kriseman didn't back down from comments he made after that meeting, when he said the council seemed to want to lead by workshop.

"The biggest concern I have is, everything seems to get sent to committee," he told the Tiger Bay audience.

He said the council worked more efficiently when he was a member.

Council member Karl Nurse, who attended the forum, said he agreed with the mayor that the council could be more agile.

"If you're not a little frustrated with how long council takes to do things, you haven't been paying attention," Nurse said.

Televising council meetings, something he pushed for as a new member in 2008, has led to too much "grandstanding and showboating," Nurse said.

But Nurse said he was confident the city could reach an accord with the Rays and expressed confidence in Kriseman.

"We're going to work it out," he said. "He's going to meet with the Rays and try to come back with something that will pass city council."

A few days ago, the mayor spoke briefly with Auld to wish him a happy new year. Kriseman said he wanted to confer with the city's legal staff before restarting formal talks with the Rays.

On Wednesday, Rays spokeswoman Rafaela Amador said the team and city took a "cooling off period" and the Rays are "waiting to see what's next."

Thursday's hour-long session at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club covered a number of other topics:

On a new design for the Pier, Kriseman said residents should participate in a nonbinding Feb. 23 vote on the eight design finalists. "This is it, folks. If you don't weigh in, you're going to miss your chance," he said.

On the subject of Midtown, he said one goal was to attract a major business to that area of the city. He mentioned Costco or Bonefish Grill as two examples.

Regarding the state of the city, Kriseman said past mayors often have used an appearance at Tiger Bay early in the year as a chance to offer their vision. But he said he wanted to give a state-of-the-city address more accessible to the public at 10 a.m. Jan. 24 at City Hall.

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected]

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